A version of this story appears in the latest issue of Entertainment Weekly. Pick it up on stands today, or buy it here now. Don’t forget to subscribe for more exclusive interviews and photos, only in EW.
He may be called the Man Without Fear, but in the third season of his solo Netflix series, Daredevil (Charlie Cox) should be afraid.
After all, the Devil of Hell’s Kitchen (known by day as lawyer Matt Murdock) was last seen crushed under a building with Elektra (Elodie Yung) at the end of the Marvel mash-up miniseries The Defenders. When he wakes up in Daredevil season 3, his heightened senses are failing, Elektra’s gone, and he’s presumed dead. “Matt starts the season broken physically, broken emotionally, and broken spiritually,” new showrunner Erik Oleson (Arrow) says. “He’s angry at God, he’s angry at the fact that he had risked his life to do God’s work, and he’s questioning whether or not he was a fool.”
Enter — or rather, re-enter — the black suit (above). Despite being barely alive, Matt quickly ventures back into the streets — not to look for justice, but for an exit entirely. “Matt goes to pretty much the darkest place you can,” Oleson says. “When he realizes that he’s incapable of being Daredevil, he would rather just end it than go forward in his life without abilities. He’s decided to set aside his Matt Murdock persona and just be the Devil, to isolate the lighter part of himself.”
That also means isolating his inner circle. Neither best friend Foggy Nelson (Elden Henson) nor ex Karen Page (Deborah Ann Woll) know Matt’s alive, and when Matt finally reaches out to the former, Foggy doesn’t exactly welcome him back with open arms — even if they’re reuniting over drinks (below). “Foggy has been trying to move on from Matt’s memory, or at least move on with his life,” Oleson says. “If you thought one of your close friends was dead and he decided not to tell you he survived, you would probably have some issues with that.”
As if those weren’t enough problems for a defeated blind vigilante to deal with, several new characters will enter Matt’s orbit soon, Oleson says. Sister Maggie (Joanne Whalley) joins as “a tough, Hell’s Kitchen-born-and-bred nun,” FBI Agent Ray (Jay Ali) “carries the heart of the season,” and “a psychologically tortured FBI sharpshooter” played by Wilson Bethel “could teeter towards good or towards evil, depending on who is manipulating or inspiring him.”
Most worrying of all, season 1 big bad Wilson Fisk (Vincent D’Onofrio, back after a brief appearance in season 2) has begun carrying out a new master plan to retake his throne. “Fisk has gotten smarter, more calculated, and more manipulative,” says Oleson, adding that Fisk is the perfect villain for the drama to feel timelier than ever. “I very much wanted to tell a story that’s relevant to the world around us. I looked at the show as a way to examine how tyrants manipulate in order to push their own agenda and cause fear and distrust.”
All that helped Oleson tell an “original” story. “I came in with a pitch that took pieces of some of my favorite comic book runs, that told a larger story, and I was expecting to get more pushback, but Marvel was incredibly excited about the storyline,” Oleson explains. “They let me tell the story I wanted to tell.… I wasn’t sure, given the events of Defenders, how much freedom I would have, and I ended up getting complete freedom.”
Well, maybe not complete freedom, according to Marvel TV head Jeph Loeb: Season 3 had to start with Matt’s “death,” no matter what. “Our first problem in front of us was that Matt Murdock was dead, so how are we going to fix that in a way that didn’t feel like it’s been done before?” Loeb says. “So when we first sat down with Erik, we had a fairly good idea as to what we wanted to tackle in terms of story, and then Erik had a great deal of freedom with where he was going to take that story.… [Season 3] goes very much back to the world of the crime story. This will be a very memorable season.” Certainly for everyone in Hell’s Kitchen.
Daredevil returns Oct. 19 on Netflix.